Land Of The Outlawz



Photos by John Hampton.
Respect, responsibility and reckless abandonment. The Outlawz Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) travel teams have used these principles to travel to new heights. The Outlawz are looking to improve after their varsity and JV teams took third and second place respectively at national competition last year.

The Outlawz are led by head coach Patrick McKnight, who has been coaching basketball for 24 years. The Outlawz season started in March and is now in full swing. McKnight said he is eager to help players improve.

“I’m all about the kids. Give me time and dedication and I’ll make you better,” McKnight said.

Sophomore Jacob Dub said he appreciates the extra time and attention he and his fellow teammates receive from their coach throughout the season.

“The coaches take a lot of time to help us out and work one on one with us,” Dub said.

The amount of players in the Outlawz program has grown tremendously, increasing from 18 in 2013, when the team was created, to 47. The amount of teams has also grown from two to four, and its rising size has created a need for support. McKnight said without support from the school, the team would be struggling to sustain itself.

“Without the help of the Coos Bay School District we wouldn’t be here,” McKnight said.

The Outlawz season consists of 33 games, and the teams travel to places such as Portland, Eugene and Vancouver, Washington. The season ends in Las Vegas in July where the team will enter the American Roundball Corporation (ARC) National Championships. The ARC National Championships boast a total of 250 teams and attracts many college recruiters. McKnight said seeing the talent in Las Vegas will help the Outlawz improve.

“There is great talent at these tournaments,” McKnight said. “It’s a great opportunity for our kids to grow.”

Zach Kellar, an eighth grader and first year member of the Outlawz, said he is looking forward to facing new teams and agreed with McKnight that it will help him develop as a player.

“Playing against a wide variety of teams will help me get better,” Kellar said.

The extra playing time is also helping the Marshfield basketball program. Junior Hunter Olson, a member of the Outlawz and varsity basketball team, said the added experience will contribute to his role on the team.

“It helps a lot because we play a lot of games, and that’s a lot more experience that you get out of just playing a regular varsity season,” Olson said.

McKnight said he has seen dramatic improvement from other players on Marshfield basketball teams and said the Outlawz provide opportunities for a variety of players.

“I think it’s already shown this program has helped MHS,” McKnight said. “It gives different opportunities for different kids. It helps them mentally, physically and with their fundamentals.”

Kellar said McKnight often tells the team it does not matter if they win or lose, as long as they improve. He said he feels that message will ultimately help the Outlawz win games.

“Instead of focusing on the wins and losses it’s important to focus on getting better,” Kellar said. “Focusing on that will improve your wins and losses.”

McKnight said the Outlawz program is here to stay, and he is looking forward to helping the players to the best of his ability.

“My goal is to work hard for the kids and help them feel like they have achieved something and make MHS a better sports program than it already is,” McKnight said.